365 project, Photography

Day 332 – No excuses!

Day 332 – Feb 13th

Right, I need to get my ass back in the gym and I need to stop making excuses about it! Yeah, my foot may still be hurting, and running is clearly out of the question for a little while, but thats the way its got to be. I can’t keep complaining about it, I need to change my plan for a little while.

One bit of exercise I really don’t mind is the walk round to pick Olivia up from nursery when I get home from work. Now I seem to have a little shadow joining me on my walk, Chloe also gets quite excited about the walk to nursery and insists on joining me. The cold snap that we seem to be stuck in means wrapping up a bit though. Its not a long walk, but its long enough to get cold if you’re not wearing enough. Still, its a nice excuse for us all to stretch our legs, as I refuse to take the car unless its pouring with rain.

Once the girls are in bed, its gym time. There is something I have been thinking about trying, and that is spinning. Its like an exercise bike, but with a big computer screen attached to it, and with no idea what I am doing, I have avoided using it up until now. Still, with a need for prolonged cardio, and no way of running for the next week or maybe even longer, it seems like now is the perfect time to try something a little different.

365 project, Photography

Day 331 – Get well soon Nanny

Day 331 – Feb 12th

Its so cold out, one of the coldest February’s that I remember for a while. We’ve seen ice and snow on and off for weeks now. The snow rarely settles, but we’re having fairly regular flurries of it, and we did have a couple of big snow days in December where it did settle, and our road was inaccessible by anything other than a 4×4 for a number of days.

Icy roads and a 220kg motorcycle don’t mix, and so in favour of staying upright, I decided to cycle to work today. The lightness of the bicycle and the lack of power through the wheel mean that I stand a better chance of not going over in the ice, and a far better chance of picking it up if I do!

Having the motorbike and being all wrapped up in weather proof biker gear seems to be turning me into a bit of a fairweather cyclist, something I have never been for the past 6 years. Cycling in the rain is definitely a miserable and unrewarding experience, but I don’t mind cycling in the cold so much, even the icy cold. There is definitely something really good about the way you physically feel when you get to work after cycling there, it really wakes you up and gives you a bit of a boost at the start of the day.

The real challenge was cycling home though. I know from experience, but studying the gradient on Strava verified my thoughts, that the route home in around 90% uphill, which explains why it always takes far longer for me to get home than it takes to get to work. When I came out of work it was like I was being slapped in the face with a cold, wet hand, it was bitterly cold and as the first part out of work is a short downhill section, there is no way to warm up quickly, you just have to grit your teeth and know that the ice cold blast in your face will be over soon!

At home I was soon changed and warming up again, and found that Olivia had made the card in today’s photo for her nanny who has to go back into hospital for a day. She makes me so proud, I know she’ll do well at school when she starts this year!

365 project, Photography

Day 330 – It’s not big or clever

Day 330 – Feb 11th

There’s one thing I certainly didn’t miss over January, and that was hangovers. Something I don’t suffer hugely from quite so much these days, mostly because we don’t seem to go out all that often any more, I only really drink at home at the weekends, and consequently rarely drink particularly large amounts in that situation.

Last night I hadn’t planned to go crazy, I was only catching up with friends, but knew that after a month off the booze, it may hit me a little harder than normal. I didn’t think I was doing too badly, considering, that was until those shots came out, at least. Things changed after that.

I was definitely paying for those shots now.

Still, it was Sunday and it was a day with the family that I didn’t want to miss out on because of a few too many drinks the night before. I knew a good meal would fix me up, and managed to book a table for the four of us at our favourite carvery for lunch. The girls, although placated with something to watch on the iPads whilst waiting for food, were as good as gold, and sat so well. I am sure most groups, when sat next to a two year old and a four year old, would be rolling their eyes waiting for the noise to begin and their meal to be ruined as they tut while they eat. Our girls did us proud and hardly uttered a sound, you wouldn’t have known they were there.

Olivia had been asking to go swimming, and whilst I enjoy taking them both, Chloe was a full blown snot producing machine this weekend, and so had to stay at home. Thankfully after lunch she went down for a nap anyway, and so it was the perfect opportunity for us to sneak out. I always like to try and arrange to meet friends there, although we’d left it a little bit too last minute, and so it was just the two of us this time. Still good fun, all the same.

Some good food and a splash in the pool helped me feel a little better, if only I could master this “getting to bed early” thing!!

365 project, Photography

Day 329 – I sure ain’t 21 any more

Day 329 – Feb 10th

Our Saturday started with Olivia’s dance lesson, as usual, although it involved me taking her instead this week, while the wife stayed at home with Chloe. The nice thing about these dance lessons is that they don’t start until 10:30am meaning we can take it nice and slow in the morning, and don’t have to rush to get ready.

This evening it was my turn to cook dinner, as we had put a chicken and chorizo jambalaya on the menu, a delicious dish thats fairly easy to prepare, but for some reason has always been one of those dishes that the wife has left me to cook. I do quite enjoy cooking, but don’t seem to get many chances to do it at the moment while the wife is off work. Its easy to get used to someone else cooking the dinner all the time, and whilst I certainly don’t take the wife for granted, and initially did miss cooking a bit, you soon get over as it is quite nice to be cooked for, but this scenario won’t last forever, I’ll no doubt be doing a lot more of the cooking once the wife goes back to work.

Tonight’s meal wasn’t the sort of dish we normally give the girls, but to our surprise they both ate some of it anyway, although Olivia needed a little more coaxing than Chloe, but it still gives me the green light to cook it again soon.

Then… it was time. I’d got approval from the wife to go out and met my friends for some drinks up town. I say I’d got approval from the wife, only because it was supposed to be her night out with friends. Her night was pre-planned, and mine was last minute, but as it happened, hers was postponed anyway, so I could go. I do miss the days when we went out together, having the girls has really put the brakes on those sorts of night, but I’m sure we’ll be able to get back into it soon as the girls are sleeping better now.

I jumped in a taxi to head out and meet my friends. Normally I get the bus, but it was cold, the weather was miserable, and I didn’t want to be hanging around waiting and end up being late. A good night was had, but it seemed that some of the group had itchy feet and kept wanting to move from one bar to another, which was fine until the rain started pouring and after a few drinks no-one quite knew where they were going.

When someone said the word “shots”, I knew the evening was about to get messy, and after a few shots, I was done! Time to jump in a taxi and head home… before losing my phone in the taxi and having a moment of panic at 1:30am until the kind taxi driver brought it back. After having my nice, expensive iPhone only 3 months, I was quite relieved to be reunited with it again. Half an hour felt like forever!

I seem to be out of practise with these nights out!

365 project, Photography

Day 328 – Friday first world problems

Day 328 – Feb 9th

The end of the week always feels like a little celebration, no alarm clock in the morning and 48 hours at home with the family.

Tonight we were having some proper Friday night food, pizza and chips, perfect to start the weekend off with, free from nutrition, but full of taste! At least the chips are home made and oven cooked, so not quite as unhealthy as they could be. I stopped off on my way home from work to grab a couple of beers, which was about all I could manage to squeeze into my rucksack as I was on the motorbike and still haven’t had a box fitted to the back.

The real Friday night starts when dinner is done and the girls are in bed though, and tonights viewing pleasure was a film I’d bought on iTunes recently, The Last King Of Scotland. Forrest Whitaker is a fantastic actor and plays an amazing part in this story, and the wife even stayed awake through this one, which I wasn’t really expecting. Trying to work out which kind of films she will or won’t enjoy (as she always refuses to choose a film) is an almost impossible task. Just when I think I’ve worked it out, she falls asleep at one that I thought would be a hit, and stays awake at one I didn’t think she’d be especially interested in.

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I am never going to win, women are quite simply just too confusing, I may as well just roll a dice on movie night!

365 project, Photography

Day 326 – Its like being naked, but with clothes on

Day 326 – Feb 7th

Hump day – that magical point in the week where you start forgetting about Monday morning, and start looking forward to Friday afternoon instead. When they can throw anything at you, and you can cope with it because Friday is coming, right?! Well, almost, in fact there isn’t much that can ruin this point in the week, the only thing better than hump day is Friday itself… that is of course, if you remembered to pick your phone up before you left the house in the morning.

You did remember, right? Well, hell, no I didn’t! Damn it!

Is there any worse feeling in this modern age, besides actually losing it completely? Yes, even knowing that I may well get home to no missed calls, no new messages, and only a couple of facebook notifications that probably aren’t that relevant to me anyway.

It does suck, but I have a trump card up my sleeve… my work iPad! I can thankfully still access all my iTunes music, Twitter, Amazon and even my iMessages meaning that I am still in contact with the wife. So its not like a have to detach myself from technology completely. Working in a school setting means that a good portion of the internet is heavily filtered for the pupils protection as ICT is a huge part of every day learning, so it does restrict your access to certain things while you are using the school network, and sometimes the most random harmless site can be blocked for the silliest of reasons, not because it actually contains anything dodgy.

It’s always nice to get home and have the reassurance that your phone is at hand though, and check it just to confirm that you do indeed have no missed calls and no missed messages, and yes there are only a handful of Facebook notifications, most of which don’t really apply to me anyway!

Leaving the house without our phones is about as close as we can imagine feeling to having walked out of the house without a stitch of clothing on, except we are fully dressed and no-one is giving us funny looks, at least for no reason that we can work out anyway.

The only thing is, when I get home I have these two pretty little things wanting my attention, and so any glances at the phone are only brief anyway, before it has to go on the shelf out of the way… well that is until we watch the Zootropolis Blu Ray again for about the one hundredth time, and I lose the girls to the tv screen for a good half an hour!

365 project, Photography

Day 322 – There is this girl who stole my heart and she calls me daddy

Day 322 – Feb 3rd

Two years ago today we’d booked ourselves in… not your usual booking, like a table in a restaurant. No, this was quite a unique booking. After the complications in delivering Olivia the first time around, we elected to have a planned c-section delivery for our new arrival.

Today was the day we went into hospital.

The bags were packed, we were up and showered early and off to the hospital. Being early February it was cold out, but we were not concerned with the weather, for the next couple of days it was going to be of no interest to us.

We appeared to be the third of three couples to have the procedure done today, and the first two had both gone in by 10:30am, we had to be next, and we were hoping we could have our new little baby in our arms by midday at this rate.

It wasn’t to be, they let us waiting another seven hours after the previous couple disappeared. If the waiting wasn’t enough, it was made worse by the fact that Clare had had no food or water since the night before because of the operation ahead.

Thankfully, just after 6:30pm a little girl was placed in our arms, and she was perfect. Suddenly nothing else mattered, and the wait had all been worth it.

Scroll forward two years and we have quite a character developing in front of us, celebrating her second birthday today. She is not one bit like her big sister. She is the yin to Olivia’s yang, the day to her night. They are both alike in some ways though, both are beautiful, funny and full of personality. I can see already that she’s going to keep us on our toes!

We were a little disappointed that because of the time of year, we couldn’t have a big bbq garden party like we had for Olivia, whatever we did would have to be indoors. So we decided to have the day in two parts, friends in the morning and family in the afternoon.

The girls were up at the normal time, so we came downstairs for the girls to be greeted by all the balloons, then by the presents. The kitchen was a big hit straight away. We’d told a couple of friends to pop round with their little ones later in the morning, so Chloe had someone to play with for a bit, and she had a lovely time and a few more presents to open. It would have been lovely to have been able to invite a few more, but the house just wasn’t big enough.

We’d done our best to make the house as fun as it could be for Chloe, with a mini laser light show, tents and tunnels with coloured balls everywhere. We couldn’t have a proper party because of the size of the room, but this was enough for Chloe.

As everyone left we hoped to slot Chloe’s nap into the couple of hours before the family turned up, and it worked a treat, a 3hr window proved enough to squeeze a 2 hour nap into.

With the family finally here, Chloe was awake after her sleep, fully refreshed and having a wonderful time. I disappeared off to the fish and chip shop to collect the food I’d pre-ordered the day before, fish and chips for everyone, which went down an absolute treat. A lovely evening was had by all, and once the girls were in bed the family didn’t stay too long, giving us chance to relax and enjoy our evening.

365 project, Photography

Day 318 – Leave me… save yourself!

Day 318 – Jan 30th

I guess when your time is done on this planet, most of us would prefer to slip away peacefully in our sleep. Not many of us would expect to wake up in the morning again… only this time, dead!

That’s pretty much how I felt this morning, it was like the worlds worst hangover, except without all the fun of drinking the night before, combined with being run over by a car which then reversed over me, all this after cruelly being kept awake continuously for seven days.

You’d think that the pretty much automatic response to this would be to pick up the phone, call into work and tell them that under no circumstances would you be leaving your bed today, and they’d be lucky to even see you the following day too.

This was not what I did. Instead I dragged myself out of bed at the last possible moment, threw some leftovers in my bag for lunch, and jumped on the motorbike.

I seem to have this inability to call in sick, there is a guilt inside of me which prevents it from happened unless I am literally dying from the plague or have limbs falling off. I’ve always been like it, even when I was younger and my mother told me to take a day off school if I wasn’t well, I always went in anyway. I couldn’t tell you why, I guess the thought of letting people down pushes me on.

I managed to get through today, I don’t think I coughed over too many people along the way, and even with my brain working at 52k modem dial-up speed I managed to navigate through rush hour on a motorbike safely to get home.

Now, that good nights sleep I was talking about…

365 project, Photography

Day 317 – I may close my eyes, but I’m not asleep

Day 317 – Jan 29th

So its official, the whole house has germs now, and we’re all suffering one way or another, and consequently none of us are sleeping very well. The coughing is the most common problem amongst us, and it is making sleeping through the night quite a challenge. If we’re not waking ourselves up, one of the girls is awake! Poor Chloe has been sleeping the worst, around 11:30pm each night for the last three nights she has woken up pretty inconsolable!

It couldn’t come on a worse week either, we are expecting friends and family over on Saturday for Chloe’s 2nd birthday, and the last thing we want is a) to be ill for it, or b) be passing our germs onto anyone else! I am keeping my fingers crossed that most of this will have passed by the weekend.

It will also be the first weekend that I am going to allow myself to have a drink, after Dry January comes to an end this week. So I would really like to be feeling well enough to have a drink and actually enjoy it, I think I’ve earned it.

The worst thing about these germs is that they have got right down into my chest, making it impossible to carry on using the treadmill for a few days, and I know that if I was to try I’d regret it straight away, if I could even finish my run at all. I really want to get back into my training, and continue pushing to increase these times that I am running for.

Lets hope for a better nights sleep tonight!

365 project, Photography

Day 314 – The final weekend

Day 314 – Jan 26th

Something to look forward to, or just habit? Friday night is one of my favourite points in the week. Get the girls to bed, find a good film to put on, pour a drink and open some snacks. As a parent, its a pretty standard weekend, you couldn’t really hope for much more… well, unless you had very understanding babysitters, plenty of free cash to burn and no desire to be up early whatsoever, regardless of what your kids were doing.

We’ve often wondered if we’d still have the energy to get all dressed up and paint the town red if we had the chance now? Personally I wouldn’t have a problem taking myself up town, although I almost certainly wouldn’t be staying up until 3am and looking for some fast food on the way home like I used to. Before now we have actually sat in a queue in the McDonalds drive through, in a black cab with the meter ticking, because getting a burger at 2:30am was suddenly THE most important thing in the world, period.

Nowadays not having to go anywhere is actually a huge bonus, for example, as much as the wife misses her nights out, she loves nothing more than not having to make excuses for not wanting to go anywhere. As a parent, waking up with a hangover is a terrible idea, kids are generally noisy and pretty unforgiving of such ailments. There is also the point that after getting through the baby phase and onto the toddler phase, where the children sleep better, there is no greater rewards at the end of the day than a full nights sleep, and even on a Friday night that can start quite early for some parents. Life isn’t quite so rock and roll any more, at least not for a little while any way. It still has its moments, but tonight isn’t one of them.

Yes, its fair to say that grabbing a beer/wine/vodka/JD to drink in front of a film has become the norm for a Friday and Saturday night, and not only that, its enjoyable too. So giving up the drink for Dry January hasn’t been easy, breaking a habit is one thing, but breaking a habit you not only enjoy but also look forward to has been quite a test. This is the final weekend, and I can honestly say that I have not missed having a drink for almost the entire week, it has only been that period around 6pm-9pm where it has really been on my mind, but once I am distracted by a good film I can quite easily forget about the fact that the cola in my hand has no Jack Daniels in it, or the can of Monster has no vodka in it. I am at a point now where I am really not missing the alcohol at all, and the month has passed by quite easily. A lot of people sneer at Dry January, and claim they don’t see the point in it, which is fair enough, if they can’t find a point then it certainly isn’t for them, this is something you can only do for yourself. Its something that requires some dedication and will power, as it is so easy to give in, which I can vouch for myself after my previous attempt a couple of years ago only saw me make it to the second weekend of January before I caved in!

I am certainly not going to gloat, or be smug about it, I am just glad I have done it for myself.